Uncategorized

White Privilege Frankenstein

If opportunity doesn’t knock, build a door. – Milton Berle

For a while, I’ve been talking creating my/your own work. And I have been. But, now I’ve found a topic that resonates with a lot of people: White Privilege. Not an easy topic at all. But, I found a really great take on it. And I have found a team who really believes in it.

I’ll be talking more about it in the near future, but for now I’m asking you to consider joining my Kickstarter campaign. We’re 75% funded already, but if I make more in my campaign, I might be able to pay my actors which is huge.

Please check out my campaign here http://kck.st/1V5uK1C  and consider joining us for even a $5 or $10 level. If you can give more, that’s great too .

Thanks for considering!

Actor, Motivation

Value vs. Money

“You want to be an actor? You’re gonna be poor.” 
my grandfather’s reaction to my career choice (paraphrased)
vs.
“Do what you love and the minute you stop loving it, stop doing it” 
my Dad’s take on the same subject.

Which one is your view?

Or think of it this way. The first time I saw Star Wars: A New Hope, it was free. I saw it on TV somewhere. The first time I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace, I paid $15 to see it on the screen, I think it was in IMAX. I paid nothing for a fantastic movie but, shelled out money and got Jar Jar Freakin’ Binks.

See, the thing is, we often confuse Value with Money. Now you can spend a lot of money on something that has a lot of value, like tickets to a great movie. Or you can spend the same amount or more on something that feels as valid as watching paint dry. So let’s separate the two concepts.

If you’re an actor or other creative artist, you probably need to work a survival job while you pursue your vocation with the remaining hours in your week. Personally, I work an admin job. Survival jobs are soul crushing. They can make you doubt your personal value. I have, at times been deeply depressed and felt completely worthless because it seems so easy to get work that I just don’t want. And why should I want it? At my current survival job, all they really do is provide services to people who are dealing in boatloads of money. But, when you back away from the deals, there is nothing of any value as far as my eye can see. They’re basically helping people with a lot of money, make a lot more money or get the outcome they can afford.

Contrast that with the experience you have in improv or on stage when you can feel the visceral reaction from an audience. Or think about when you’re on TV, even for a second and everybody and their mother is calling/texting/tweeting/posting. The excitement is palpable. You’re providing them with some kind of real value. From the temporary thrill of seeing a friend do work on the screen or stage to the deeper lessons conveyed when a talented group of artists produce great work, you are providing value to people.

As I’m currently working on my own projects I often reflect on what I want to say or what I want people to think or talk about?’. I’m not thinking how can I make a bazillion dollars. Maybe that’s my mistake? But, in my estimation, at one point money is too expensive. Value, on the other hand, is…well valuable.

The Dictionary Definition is: 1) the regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something. 2) a person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.

If you want to boil it down to basics, no caveman ever painted dollar signs on cave walls. And while they weren’t dealing in dollars, they inherently seemed to know the value of the experience over a deal. If you walk away from art saying, “We got a great deal!” you probably missed the point. “Hey Guys, Liam Neeson was a real bargain in Taken! If he knew how much havoc he was going to wreak, he could’ve totally charged a lot more.”

If you’re an actor or singer or dancer or artist of any kind, you already know that you have a hard road. You’re hopefully doing this with a purpose.  What you’re doing transforms people’s lives, takes them away from the now and makes them think and feel and maybe even change something in their routine. That’s something I value.

When it gets hard, remember what is truly valuable. If you still love it, If you still find that importance, keep going.

Lucky for me, I’m my father’s child.

Actor

What I learned from working with Michael Caine

Last week I was shot a small part in the feature film, ‘Going In Style’. It’s actually a remake of the 1979 comedy about three retirees (Art Carney, Lee Strasberg and George Burns) who plan a bank robbery. The 2015/2016 version is a little lighter in tone and stars Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Alan Arkin.

When I was cast, I knew I’d be in a scene with acting legend Michael Caine. My first instinct was to do a little research on Mr. Caine, himself. It didn’t take long to (re)discover that Michael Caine has written a book and done a whole televised program on Acting in Film. It’s available on YouTube and I highly recommend it. I also highly recommend his book.

I got to set and met director, Zach Braff, who described what the scene would be. I sat in my chair and watched the B team go through the same blocking that I would. And the next thing I knew, I was on that mark, getting last minute direction from Zach (yeah, we’re tight) and Michael Caine, was standing with me. And that was it. I had to be ready to go. It was so fast. Wow.

LESSON 1: Small Parts are Serious Business.

In Acting in Film, Caine talks about the hardest roles, the ones where you show up for just one day of work for just one scene. In short, he was talking about the kind of scene I had to execute. He said that when you have that kind of job, you have to be ready at a 10 out of 10 level. Basically, the train is already on the track and you have to be ready to show up at its current speed, jump on, execute your role and jump off. It’s a huge challenge, so it’s ironic that you have to conquer these most difficult hurdles before you’re rewarded with something meatier and somewhat easier to execute (because you get more time to live in it).

LESSON 2: Choose Professional over Personal.

The other thing that I learned from Mr. Caine’s book was that he is usually not very social before takes. Instead he prefers to focus on the scene he’s about to shoot. As I sat in my chair on set, Michael Caine was right there next to me. We were never formally introduced.  There was part of me wanted to shake hands and say hello to the man who was both Alfie and Alfred and there was part who was more than ready to be a peer (if I can pay myself a high compliment) of that same man. In the moment on set, I opted for the latter. I’m glad I did. It made me look good. Also, it made that exchange between us seem like the first time we’d ever met. Because it was.

LESSON 3: It’s So Fast (But you still have to go home).

When we were done, and it seemed so fast. We only did two takes. The best thing to do, was go as professionally as I had arrived and performed. I cannot tell you how much I wanted to linger. It was the best set I had ever been on. Ever.

Some Other Observations:

  • Zach Braff runs a great set and is genuinely a nice guy.
  • You may have a stand in, they’re called the B Team. Pay attention to their rehearsal. You’re about to do what they do.
  • Most rehearsals on set are for the crew, not you. Get as much advance rehearsal/preparation in as you can.
  • Be as low maintenance as you possibly can. And say “Please” and “Thank You”. People really do notice.

So, to my fellow actors who are booking these tough, but crucial roles. Know your cast if you can. Do your homework. Be ready, more ready than you think you need to be. Keep it professional.  And leave them wanting more.

Hope this helps!

Uncategorized

The Simple Reality of How Becoming an Actor Saved my Life.

Some real courageous stuff from my friend Josh Schubart. He’s come so far and has so much to be proud of.

Some Actor

For a long while I would only share this with a chosen few, wanting people to see me for the man I am today not the man who came before. I share my story, because it is exactly what it is and nothing more or less. My hope is this might help other actors who have similar stories or feelings to not feel so alone.

Here we go.

My father left when I was four, and my mother was a Bi Polar/Schizophrenic/Part-time Prostitute/Drug Addict. As a result we moved around a lot. I would ping pong back and forth from my grandmother’s house, while my mom was drying out/spending time in a metal health facility, and whatever housing she was placed in at the time. I was in seventh grade when everything seemed like it was getting back to normal. She was clean and on the medication needed to hold…

View original post 689 more words

Uncategorized

Support Moves

One of the first things they teach you at UCB is Support is Huge. Many times, it’s more important to offer strong support in an improv scene that helps justify or ground what the scene’s about. If the scene started as a farm that needed a cow and you stepped out as a cow, you made a great support move. In fact, the teachers often give highest praise to the great support moves. When I first learned it, I didn’t realize how supporting the thing that’s already going on is so important. But, if you have the time and ability to support your fellow artists, you absolutely should.

You know when that person in an Industry Intensive, an Acting Class or a Networking Event hands you a postcard for their showcase, short film or Improv 401 show?  You should seriously consider going. In the absolute worst case scenario, the show is going to be a turkey. The good news is that it won’t last forever. In the best case scenario, you’ll be entertained, inspired and quite possibly connected to new people.

Karma

There’s something to be said for the person who comes out to support friends and colleagues. If you believe that what goes around and comes around, than the worst thing that can happen is someone will be inclined to come out to support you when you’re the one onstage. That audience will have one more supportive face.

Education

My Dad always said, “You never stop learning.” In this case there’s so much to learn. If it’s a good show, you can learn what you can do to improve your own work. If not such a good show, you can take notes on what not to do. If it’s a new theater company, you can be on the lookout for their next round of auditions. If you like the space, you can keep it in your mental rolodex of possible spaces to rent. Did you like the writing? Check out what other stuff the author has written. These are just a few examples. I’m sure you’ll learn much more than that.

Networking

That person you’re supporting is going to see you in a new light. Today, we’re not just actors. We can’t afford to be just one thing. We’re directors, writers, producers and so on. That friend from class might just be working on something that you can collaborate on but, you won’t know if you don’t go. Also, you don’t know who else you’re going to meet.  You probably won’t meet anyone new at home.

Here are some other great examples of support:

Someone is in or made a short film (or both)?  Go and show up for it at a film festival. Tweet to your followers about it. Use the festival hashtag. Say hi to your friends and introduce yourself to filmmakers whose work you admire. Get connected. Get inspired. Maybe it’ll be you next year.

What about online content? I’m glad you asked. If your friend is making a webseries, volunteer to help. If the sketch videos are already made, like them on YouTube, Tweet about them and post some nice remarks on Facebook. If they’re in the middle of their Kickstarter/Indie Go-Go campaign, give them $15. If you can’t afford that, offer your services and promote their fundraising for them.

Someone’s in Blue Bloods, tonight? Let your friend and your network know where they can support a great working local actor (instead of ‘Reality TV’). There. I said it.

Can’t make a show? Support your friends by posting about their shows all over social media. It literally costs you nothing.

Because here’s the thing; as an actor, you want people to care about you so they watch you and invest in you. I totally get it. But, here’s the bigger thing; people care about people who care about them. You have to start by giving support. But, let me add this: don’t approach this like a transaction. Give your support freely. Remember, this business is really about what you can give, not what you came to take. Come with your arms open, not your hand out. You’ll be surprised how great it can be.

Actor, Brain Candy, Motivation

Brain Candy – Nick Hoffa’s “Eyeline” Podcast

Feed Your Head. It’s a hard business, being an actor, and you need to keep a steady stream of positive and useful information coming into your brain. You can spend your day on Facebook and go between people who are booking and #blessed and people who are struggling and trying (and sometimes succeeding) to lock it up while they can’t seem to get hit by a bus if they tried. Meanwhile you’re taking the emotional rollercoaster ride that goes along with that. Or you can actively seek out encouragement and perspective from working actors who are freely sharing their stories and potentially mapping out the roads you should explore. One of these options sounds far more productive to me.

Recently, I’ve had the opportunity to virtually meet Nick Hoffa on Stage 32. Nick is an actor living in LA. He’s started a podcast called the Eyeline Podcast, that’s available on iTunes. Each Episode is about an hour worth of some really valuable conversation with other actors of all different stripes. These are people (some very accomplished) who can help you with the long view on a career that has more ups and downs than perhaps any other. Imagine being a fly on the wall as Virginia Madsen talks about her journey? Or what if you could get some real talk from Katie Lowes (Scandal) about how taking care of herself really helped her career? Well, now you can hear stories just like these on Eyeline.

It costs you nothing. It can be the thing you listen to on your commute. Certainly, if it came down to “Showtime” or the “Eyeline” on the 1 Train, I know that I’m going to be listening to Nick. If you have a desk job, you can listen to it on the website.

Sometimes when you’re on your journey, it’s easy to lose perspective. And if you have the chance to check in with Nick’s Podcast, I’d highly recommend it. I consider it a valuable resource and I hope you do too.

Actor, Motivation

The Best Time to Plant a Tree…

As the saying goes, the best time to plant a tree was twenty years ago. (Jordan Ancel was the first person to quote that to me.) The second best time is now. If you have anything you’d like to do. If there are any personal goals that still are kicking around inside you, the ones that won’t let you go. I’d like to encourage you to go ahead and get on them.  Take that first step. If you don’t know what that first step is, ask.  Or better yet, think about where you want to go or be, then trace a line in your mind back from there to where you’re standing, now. You’ll be surprised at how clearly you see where you’re going. And then, you can go. Go now!

Let me warn you about looking back at opportunities that might have been or things that didn’t turn out how you would’ve liked. That’s a great way to waste time.  And you don’t have time. Don’t be lulled into thinking you do. Think of each day as a bank of moments (or better yet, opportunities) that you get (assuming you woke up) and you get to decide what to do with each moment.

Since I’m citing my friend, Jordan, I’d like to give him a plug. You can visit his Actor’s Business Academy to sign up if you’re interested. He offers an intelligent, focused program. He’s a really good person and intensely passionate. He will lovingly kick you in the ass and remind you why you’re doing what you’re doing.

I’ve worked with him in his program and since then, have tripled my auditions and doubled my bookings.  Better yet, I’ve never felt more in control of where I’m going.